Greater Greater Washington

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ANC 3D votes to support bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue

Last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D voted 5-4 to support adding bike lanes to New Mexico Avenue and Tunlaw Road in northwest DC. They also voted in favor of wider sidewalks on Nebraska Avenue, and asked DDOT to do a traffic study of New Mexico Avenue to help improve traffic flow and safety around Ward Circle.


Rendering of proposed bike lane on New Mexico Avenue from Greg Billing of WABA.

Ultimately, both sides on this issue wanted the same thing: a safer, less congested New Mexico Avenue. But some residents and ANC commissioners believed that bike lanes and sharrows would exacerbate the current "chaos" and "Armageddon" on the road.

Supporters, meanwhile, argued the opposite: that the project will bring more order to the street, clearly delineate a space on the road for cyclists, remove cyclists from sidewalks, and make cycling a more attractive option to people who currently drive.

As we wrote yesterday, the bike lanes would improve traffic and make cyclists and pedestrians safer. In the audience, speakers who supported the bike lane outnumbered those who opposed it by 4 to 1.

Supporters said that bicyclists tend to support local retail and that the bike lane is a vital connection between Glover Park, American University and Tenleytown, especially now that the N8 Metrobus between those areas has been canceled.

Opponents, meanwhile, declined to support the lane because DDOT didn't perform a traffic study beforehand, as the ANC had asked in 2011. Some stressed their support for bicycling and environmentalism, and claimed that by opposing the lane, they were actually supporting cyclist safety.

There are some traffic issues on New Mexico Avenue today, like trucks unloading outside the Foxhall Square commercial center and blocking the street. But fixing these problems should not be a precondition to move forward with a bike lane, as opponents say. Commissioner Rory Slatko passionately defended the plan, and said that since bicyclists are already riding on New Mexico Avenue, any additional delay to the project puts them in danger.

While the debate over better bike infrastructure may not be settled, this chapter is over. By supporting bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue, ANC 3D took a positive step to improve conditions for cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians and endorsed a much-needed connection in DC's growing network of bike infrastructure.

Brian McEntee writes the blog Tales From the Sharrows, where he talks about his daily bicycle commute from Capitol Hill to American University or many other subjects. 

Comments

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Brian, do you have a break-down of the vote? I'd love to know how my guy voted. Thanks.

by RDHD on Jul 11, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

I'd like to hear an argument that says that NM avenue is so unique compared to all other DC streets with bike lanes that it deserves an above and beyond traffic study for a paint configuration that is literally present on dozens of DC (and arlington and many other places) streets.

by drumz on Jul 11, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

@drumz It's 3D. They are just, different because.

by William on Jul 11, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

In favor:

Penny Pagano
Stu Ross
Rory Slatko
Philip Thomas
Joe Wisniewski

Opposed:

Michael Gold
Kent Slowinski
Gayle Trotter
Nan Wells

Absent (but opposed in spirit and via letter)
Tom Smith

Many thanks to the 5 commissioners who voted for the lane and especially Commissioner Slatko who made a compelling, thoughtful and logical closing argument.

And also thanks to the many bicycling advocates who turned out for the meeting, spoke up and stuck around until 11PM when this finally wrapped up.

by TomQ on Jul 11, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

I used to live around there. I'm pretty sure the people worried about "congestion" are just upset they can't use it as a 40 mile an hour short cut to get downtown faster. God forbid you have to drive carefully and actually be aware of your surroundings.

by Alan B. on Jul 11, 2013 3:25 pm • linkreport

Great news. I used to ride up the sidewalk and get side-eyed by parents with kids and commuters my age. Glad to see that that conflict will be gone! Now let's get some more CaBi stations out there.

by Neil Flanagan on Jul 11, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

Interesting that 2 of the 4 against it are the ones representing people on either side of New Mexico Ave.

What's happened to Tom Smith? He hasn't been at any recent meetings it seems . . . not that that's a bad thing, as he makes the other 3D commissioners look even-handed and non-obstructionist.

by ah on Jul 11, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

I used to live around there. I'm pretty sure the people worried about "congestion" are just upset they can't use it as a 40 mile an hour short cut to get downtown faster.

I do live around there, and New Mexico Ave. is not a short cut to get much of anywhere faster. At one end is Nebraska Ave., which is something of a mess, and at the other end is Glover Park, which is also something of a mess from a cut-through perspective.

Rather, there is a legitimate issue not of congestion but of bad traffic flow. I supported the bike lanes, because these traffic issues are problems regardless of the bike lane (well, I would have supported them anyway). But between loading docks, illegal parking, some weird traffic light/driveway configurations (see the intersection at Macomb with the entrance to the office building driveway), and the intersection with the mess of Nebraska Avenue, there are real traffic issues that need to be solved.

Fortunately enough Commissioners realized that blocking the bike lane project wouldn't achieve much in solving the actual problems that exist.

by ah on Jul 11, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

People ALWAYS go down New Mexico at 40MPH, and the DEFINITELY use it as a cut through. New Mexico to Tunlaw, down 37th. I bike every day and see it happen.

The real fact is bike lanes are going in, good. But, yes, people use New Mexico as a highway, and not the 25MPH residential street it should be. I respect and support this decision to have the bike lanes as a smart decision. And I was happy to be there with around 20 other bikers who shared our voices with the public. We are so happy and lucky this has passed. Thanks for the great coverage, Brian.

by Amanda G on Jul 11, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

Illegal parking and poor loading practices are definitely problems all over the city that I would personally crack down on with an iron fist. The parking more than the loading because in some places there really are not good alternatives for commercial delivery. They also really need to fix transit around there. N and D bus service were and I assume still are just pathetic for a pretty dense area with a lot of students and young professionals.

by Alan B. on Jul 11, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

In the LOL category, I just got this email from one of the Commissioners who voted AGAINST:

Hi Steven:

Thank you for taking the time to email me and express your opinion about this important issue to the community.

Happy biking!

Warmly,
Gayle

by Steve Seelig on Jul 11, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

Reposting an earlier comment:

I would propose a special GGW award for AU students and ANC 3D commissioners Rory Slatko and Joe Wisniewski, who really were the driving forces behind getting the New Mexico bike lane resolution to pass. As Tales from the Sharrows mentioned, this happened in one of the most anti-change ANC's in Ward 3. I'm not celebrating yet, but this may be some kind of tipping point for Ward 3.
Also, kudos to all the new faces who attended the meeting for their heartfelt testimony in favor of the bike lane, especially those AU students who put a human face on the institution this ANC loves to vilify.

by Steve Seelig on Jul 11, 2013 4:12 pm • linkreport

The reality is that New Mexico Ave is a vital link between Glover Park and AU. It is often a good alternative route to various destinations in upper northwest and the Maryland suburbs.
It does have that one crazy spot and the wide lanes make it easy to speed most of the time.
I am so happy that the ANC came to understand that a bikelane there will only make things safer. I think it will also make it easier for students who live in Glover Park to forego a car.

by Abigail Z. on Jul 11, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

@Steve Seeling - It could be taken as snarky, but it could also be a genuine thanks for input plus an acknowledgement that she hopes that as a cyclist you will enjoy the the benefit that she was outvoted on.

by ah on Jul 11, 2013 11:41 pm • linkreport

@TomQ Thanks for posting the vote. I'm curious why my guy voted against it. I'll have to make sure to vote against him next time around.

by RDHD on Jul 12, 2013 7:43 am • linkreport

In other ANC & bike lane news, on Wednesday ANC 6C voted 6-0 to support the "contra-flow" bike lanes on G & I Streets NE. Last night, ANC 6A followed suit with an 8-0 vote in favor.

Both commissions also asked that DDOT consider banning sidewalk cycling on H Street NE where it parallels the new lanes on G & I (which will be approximately 2nd to 12th NE).

by Tony Goodman, ANC 6C06 on Jul 12, 2013 8:23 am • linkreport

I live on New Mexico Ave and it is not possible to go 40 mph between Cathedral and Nebraska ave, where the real congestion is Why must the bike lane go directly up New Mexico? Why can't it go west at Cathedral Ave and come out near AU.
I feel this vote reflects an organized few and will only benefit a very few, while inconviencing those whose must drive to work or as part of their businesses.
I drive all over NW during the day, I can testify that most bike lanes are underutilized.

by AnnEichenberger on Jul 12, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

The picture in the story shows no cars in the travel lane. It must also be underutilized.

Why must the bike lane go directly up New Mexico? Why can't it go west at Cathedral Ave and come out near AU.

In a perfect world, there'd be bike lanes on both. But the more practical reason is that NM ave is plenty wide and noted as a bike route by the city already.

by drumz on Jul 12, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

"Why can't it go west at Cathedral Ave and come out near AU."

The lanes will be on New Mexico Avenue because this is the most direct route to where people want to go-- American University, Glover Park, and the shopping complex on New Mexico Avenue. You build transportation infrastructure to accommodate trips that people want to take.

by 202_cyclist on Jul 12, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

...I live on New Mexico Ave and it is not possible to go 40 mph between Cathedral and Nebraska ave, where the real congestion is...

Isn't the speed limit there 25mph?

by Tina on Jul 12, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

Ann - which bikes lanes in Upper NW are you referring to?

And do you always speed? It might be hard to see those bikers when you are zipping around at 40MPH.

But I'm sure that speed limit wasn't meant to apply to you.

And since you like to drive everywhere does it then somehow surprise you that others do the same and there is congestion?

And at any rate should roads only accommodate drivers like yourself?

I know it is hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. But you could at least slow down to the speed limit and try.

by TomQ on Jul 12, 2013 1:38 pm • linkreport

"I live on New Mexico Ave and it is not possible to go 40 mph between Cathedral and Nebraska ave," Lord knows I have tried and have gotten up to 38 mph.

"Why must the bike lane go directly up New Mexico? Why can't it go west at Cathedral Ave and come out near AU." Why can't drivers just stay off New Mexico so I can enjoy a stress free bike ride? But if I asked for that, I'd be considered a NIMBY

"I feel this vote reflects an organized few and will only benefit a very few, while inconviencing those whose must drive to work or as part of their businesses." It is true the the well organized "bike lobby" does, in fact, consist of those who do not have any business at all. They don't bike to their jobs, for business. And what exactly is the inconvenience?

"I drive all over NW during the day, I can testify that most bike lanes are underutilized." Define optimal utilization. So the idea here is that if the bike lane is not congested, as are the streets with cars, the lane is not successful.

Sorry, but the "bike lobby" will soon "begrime" the entire stretch of New Mexico. No doubt, property values already have dropped in that neighborhood.

Dorothy Rabinowitz has moved.

by fongfong on Jul 12, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

Drumz
Do you live on New Mexico ave? I am calling you out because I suspect you represent the special interests of hardcore bicyclists.
I am focusIng on the substantial congestion in the 3100,3200 and 3300 blocks of New Mexico ave. The congestion has increased dramatically in the past few months with the advent Of Al Dente and Balduccis. They are welcome additions to the neighborhood, but definitely add to the congestion.
How will a bike lane fit into those blocks of New Mexico ave?

by AnnEichenberger on Jul 12, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

Ummm Ann do you know anything about the proposal?

Why don't you go read about and then come back and comment?

It is sort of pointless trying to discuss things with folks who don't know the subject matter (like the 3D commissioner the other night who thought the proposal was for 2 20 foot wide bike lanes).

We'll be here to discuss after you have taken some time to educate yourself.

by TomQ on Jul 12, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

@AnnEichenberger:

Until last week, I lived right next to the intersection of Tunlaw/New Mexico Ave. I bike to work 3-4 days per week and I support the bike lane and sharrows.

By biking, I do not cause any congestion looking for parking. I do not cause any congestion by breaking down in the travel lane. I reduce congestion by not taking up as much space at the intersection (http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/amount-of-space-required-cars-bus-bicycles-poster-image43.jpg), allowing more cars to go through each cycle of the traffic light. You are welcome.

By hardcore bicyclists, do you mean those who do not want to get hit and killed by someone driving 15 mph over the posted speed limit?

by 202_cyclist on Jul 12, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

I was unaware Drumz was a hardcore cyclist. So's my 5 year old.

Ann, I must say that I am sad that you have to sometimes wait in traffic. This must be a substantial hardship and must very much be a drag on your business's profitability.

It pains me to point out that if there are things worth doing on your block, like nice businesses, this will mean people will come. And if people come by car, there will be traffic. This seems fundamental to me - am I missing something. Perhaps what I am missing is that you want everything your way.

Having a bike lane will not affect that car traffic, except perhaps to reduce it. but if you are correct and it won't be utilized, then I guess it really won't bring anyone else to your block.

by fongfong on Jul 12, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

Do you live on New Mexico ave?
Irrelevant, we're talking about a city-wide policy, and a biclying policy so my interest lies there.

I am calling you out because I suspect you represent the special interests of hardcore bicyclists.

I haven't ridden since my bike was stolen in March, but again, that's irrelevant. Hardcore cyclists are going to ride whether a lane is there or not. Adding cycling infrastructure has a proven effect on increasing the number of cyclists and gets people to timid to ride on regular streets to bike in bike lanes. That's a good thing.

I am focusIng on the substantial congestion in the 3100,3200 and 3300 blocks of New Mexico ave. The congestion has increased dramatically in the past few months with the advent Of Al Dente and Balduccis. They are welcome additions to the neighborhood, but definitely add to the congestion.
How will a bike lane fit into those blocks of New Mexico ave?

Click through the links in the story and you'll see the actual plans for the bike lane, you can see for yourself. It'll help with congestion by encouraging more people to ride bikes instead. Meanwhile a lane isn't being taken away nor was one proposed to be built. The same throughput will be there so I doubt this will worsen congestion at all since this doesn't really change much in the way of vehicle capacity.

by drumz on Jul 12, 2013 2:20 pm • linkreport

Why must the bike lane go directly up New Mexico? Why can't it go west at Cathedral Ave and come out near AU.

Why don't cars take that route as well? Perhaps because it involves at least 6 stop signs, plus entering Nebraska Ave. at an unsignaled intersection. If that's a hassle for drivers, it's at least as much (and probably much more) for cyclists. (And, to be fair, drivers are just as unlikely to come to a complete stop at the stop signs as cyclists--I see it every day along those roads).

by ah on Jul 12, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

The congestion has increased dramatically in the past few months with the advent Of Al Dente and Balduccis. They are welcome additions to the neighborhood, but definitely add to the congestion.

By DC standards there simply is not "congestion". Congestion is Nebraska Avenue, where only 3-4 cars may be able to turn from New Mexico during rush hour.
Congestion is proceeding the length of Massachusetts Avenue to Dupont circle at less than 20mph.
Congestion is the beltway at rush hour.

Congestion is not having to stop at the red light at Macomb and wait in a line 5-6 cars deep.

by ah on Jul 12, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

Let's stop feeding the trolls. She just posted this:

--- In tenleytown@yahoogroups.com, "ann" wrote:
>
> I am out of town and am afraid that a bike lane will only worsen the congestion.
> I have first hand experience with the increasing congestion as I have lived on New Mexico Ave for over 15 years.
> Thanks
> Ann Eichenberger
>

by fongfong on Jul 12, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

oops, the heading of Ann's listserv posting was:

Does anyone know the results of the ANC vote on the bike lane on New Mexico Ave?

Posted after she knew the answer, hence the trolling comment. Yep

by fongfong on Jul 12, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

Great meeting, great community:
People represented and voted as to the mode they felt entitlement to, in their defense it's what people do. This win shows the rising social consciousness of the community. Cheers, and good job.

Those NM Ave Bike Lane advocates or anyone interested - join the facebook page to keep support and conversation forthcoming

https://www.facebook.com/groups/144178785780758/

Thank you,

greg

by Greg Drury on Jul 13, 2013 2:18 am • linkreport

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